The Death of Fellini & Other Poems

Eponine Howarth

Poems by Jacques Prévert translated by E.H.

The Morning

Rooster crow
Night swan song
Monochord and tedious
Crying out to me
Today it starts again
Today again
I don’t hear your romance
And I turn a deaf ear
And I don't listen to your cry
And yet I rise with happiness
Almost every day of my life
And in the sun I slit the throat
Of the most beautiful dreams of the night

The Wisdom of Nation

Minerva cries
his wisdom tooth grows
and the war begins again

Elephant...

Elephant
I often think of you
when I am alone
when I am with others
when I walk around the countryside with my little cane
when I brush my teeth in the morning
and sometimes when I sleep your big body wanders in my dreams
It's not respect that I have for you.
No tenderness either as they say
I am not your friend
I think of you like this
I know you still exist
and I am happy
You're the big animal I know your ears
As a child I rode on you in a garden
I've seen you in documentaries
I’ve seen you in
Hamburg
I’ve seen you in charms in gingerbread
I’ve seen you on the elephant eraser
I see you as you are
Present as a real living thing
And all the things men say about you
Make me laugh
bad laughter
Two points
That you hide to make love
that you are hiding to die
And the hair on your tail
bring happiness to human love
Elephant
You are more beautiful than a cloud
The cloud rains when it dies
but you don't care about the umbrella merchants
And when you walk around with your wife and your
little ones in your landscape
You are more beautiful than a cloud
A real living thing
You don't collect post-stamps
You don't wear fake tortoiseshell glasses like a man does
And when you are a captive you pass through the cities
You are indifferent to complicated things
A man stings your buttock to get you to go
faster
And you run faster so as not to upset the
mosquito
If you arrive late we'll throw you out of the
circus door and you don't want to — you run — You have a funny way of running
You have a funny way of remembering
You're a real living thing, I can’t forget you.
I often think of you... I shake your trunk.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been trying to write an Ode to Fellini for La Piccioletta Barca’s 25th Issue and Fellini’s 100th birthday — in vain. I scribbled ideas on trains and buses, and after twenty days, I’d only established the definitive title: The Death of Fellini. So, instead of sharing the poem, I thought I’d share the idea I intended to convey, that of dreams as a form of hope, through the translation of Jacques Prévert’s three poems. The following verses reveal the common thread:

“And in the sun I slit the throat

Of the most beautiful dreams of the night” - The Morning

“And the war begins again” - The Wisdom of Nations

“As a child I rode on you in a garden” - Elephant…

And there I found the poem that I’d been looking for on those late buses and trains:

La Mort de Fellini

Enfant, je suis montée sur toi dans un jardin
Mais les dents de sagesse poussent.
La guerre recommence sans cesse;
Et j'égorge en plein soleil
Les plus beaux rêves de mes nuits.

Which translates as:

The Death of Fellini

As a child, I rode on you in a garden
Until the wisdom teeth grew.
The wars start all over again;
And in the sunshine I slit the throat
Of the most beautiful dreams of the night.

More from Issue 25

More from Fiction and Poetry